Grandiose 13: Room 217

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My feet tickled at the touch of the cold marble floor. I chuckled at this. The moon dances in my eyes while gingerly walking down the second floor hallway. There are glass walls up here too but just on the right side. It is past my bed time and it seems they forgot to lock my door tonight.

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It was a most fortunate night. My long red hair was behaving and I was discovering the second floor for the first time. Mind you, it was only a matter of time before they made the nightly rounds. I had to make this adventure short and sweet. I glimpsed into each room I passed, fancying myself a normal person. Most of the patients were asleep or appearing to be. A few of them were being naughty like me and walked about their rooms.

Gliding my fingers on the wall, I twirled with each step. My red hair shines like fire, caressing my olive skin. I run my hands through my hair and touch my face. My hands are cold.

“Elizabeth” a whisper came from down the hall. I stopped and waited for the voice to speak again. I was starting to think it was all in my head after a few minutes had passed, but then I heard it again.

“Elizabeth” a voice whispered again loudly from the end of the hall. I slowly walked down stopping once or twice debating if it was a good idea to do so. Perhaps at that moment, my brain was intoxicated by the thrill and new-found adventure, that I let myself be lured by a strange yet familiar voice.

The voice grew louder once I turned into the left, entering the B ward. My heart was racing with every step I took. Then the voice stopped once I reached the middle of the hall. To my left was a dimly lit room with just one light bulb that constantly flickered, Room 217. I could barely make out the silhouette of a man in a wheelchair with his head down. He wasn’t sleeping just staring at the floor, murmuring.

 

From what I could see, he had medium length blonde curly hair and chiseled features. I drew closer to his door to peer at him. I wanted to see his face; he looked so familiar.

“Elizabeth” I heard the voice whisper and quickly jerked my head around but saw no one.

“Who’s there?” I asked in a low voice but no one responded. When I looked into the room, I gasped. He was staring right at me.

“Henry” I murmured, feeling my heart skip a beat. A shiver ran down my spine and then I really lost it. I started screaming his name but he was hanging his head down again. The madness had really sunk in by now as I found myself trying to pry a door open that was bolted shut.

“Henry!” I bellowed, slamming my fists against the door, oblivious to the orderlies closing in on me. I kept screaming after Demetrius had slammed me to the floor. I suppose I had developed new strengths because Demetrius couldn’t keep me down. Three other orderlies had to pin me down with him for Nurse Janice to inject me with the tranquilizer. Even then, I was still kicking and screaming.

    “Let’s take her down!”

“She needs to be strapped down!” I heard Janice yell over my screams. Demetrius picked me up and flung me over his right shoulder. I was still yelling out for Henry. All that screaming gave me a headache. I guess that’s why I didn’t notice how we just kept going down. They were taking me to the dungeon.

The dungeon was where the undesirables were executed. It smelled like sewage and infested with monstrous rats that were not shy about biting you. The strong odors of decay, chemicals and filthy water caused your eyes to water. You could see the broken nails on the floor from patients being dragged to their deaths.  Death was never coy here; if it wanted you it would have you but today wasn’t my day.

We reached a room with old medical equipment and a vintage metal slab with brown leather straps running down both sides. Demetrius with the help of the other three orderlies laid me down upon it and strapped me in. Janice injected something into my right arm and slowly my eyes grew heavy. I could see her and Demetrius’ faces looking down at me.

“Who forgot to lock her in tonight?” I heard a male voice ask.

“Whoever it was is in big trouble” another male voice responded in an old Texas drawl.

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“She must never know” an unfamiliar female voice whispered.

“Henry” I said groggily, twisting my head slowly, side to side.

“There-there, rest now” Janice says to me as she pats my head. I begrudgingly obliged.

The next thing I knew, I was in Kauffman’s session room the next morning strapped into the white jacket. My hair was lying flat over my face so I shook my head to create space for my eyes to see.

“Oh, Elizabeth, you never learn do you?” Victoria laughed as she twirled her hair around her finer while popping her purple gum.

“Victoria” I say angrily.

“Don’t be upset, it ages your face dear” she responded coldly.

“You did this to me!” I screamed. She was now face to face with me; a smirk on her face.

“Prove it” she said, blowing me a kiss. I screamed.

“What’s going on?!” I hear Kauffman yell out running into the room towards me. I ignore him as I strain myself, trying to get out of the jacket.

“Give her a sedative” he yells at Victoria who just stares and smiles at me.

“Call Demetrius” Kauffman continues to yell.

“She’s Victoria!” I scream at Kauffman, but he ignores me.

“Help me” I cry but to no avail, he just walks away from me. This makes me cry. I had no real proof and all I would ever be was crazy without it.

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Grandiose 12

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The screams seemed to go on forever as I rocked myself in the corner with my hands covering my ears. I wanted them to stop screaming. And so I yelled, “Stop!” at the top of my lungs and just like that the screams died away. At first, the screams echoed out then slowly faded. The walls shivered.

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I like to think it was my outburst that brought upon the much wanted silence but then again it can’t always be all about me. I was curious to see whatever had caused the commotion but was too scared to move. What if the killer lurked right outside the door? I wasn’t trained in self-defense but I could bite him or scratch him or kick him. I didn’t want to chance it. It was wiser to stay hidden in the session room and wait for Kauffman to return.

I felt like I could stay in the room forever, slowly dying of madness. Then it started to rain. It was more like a monsoon. It hadn’t rained in weeks and I welcomed it with open arms. I quickly ran to the window and opened it; letting the cold air shock my skin. It felt great. I could smell the wet grass, tobacco and coffee. I extended my hands out so I could feel the rain, it was cold.

Once again, I let myself lose control. I forget that I imprisoned and imagine myself in England with my family and Henry. We are sitting at the dinner table eating mum’s home-cooked meal and laughing. I am happy. For happiness is just a moment. I wanted a chance to have those moments again. I wanted to figure out what happened to me and prove my innocence.

Enjoying the cold air blow my hair, I barely noticed when Kauffman came in. He just watched me for a while and I pretended not to notice him. I wondered what he was thinking and forced myself not to smile. I don’t know how long he just stood there watching me but it felt like forever. I wanted to break the silence but resisted. I would wait patiently until he was ready. There was no need to rush anything; we had all the time in the world. Time? How much time did I really have?

I never thought about time. Time was oblivious to me. I knew it was there but it was forbidden. They told me when to eat, bathe, walk, run, and dance. I had no control of myself or life here. I was a prisoner and my only escape was my vivid imagination. Time? For them it didn’t matter but for me, it was a reason to live and fight. I needed to fight back. I couldn’t succumb to the madness or darkness. I didn’t want to end up on the third floor again or worse. I wanted to get out of here as soon as possible. All of this made me hyperventilate. I took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, feeling myself relax.

“Close call but no cigar,” Kauffman finally said. I made sure to turn around slowly.

“Oh, you’re back” I said, oh so nonchalantly.

“What happened?” I continued to ask.

“A nurse got stabbed and bitten but she’s okay, now” Kauffman replied, quickly.

“By who?” I asked.

“A very mentally ill third floor patient but let’s not talk about that anymore, though” he replied.

“We needed the rain. Maybe it will wash away this day” he continued to say. He was covered in blood and looked really tired.

“Come and watch the rain fall with me” the words flew out of my mouth so fast that I couldn’t believe I actually blurted them out.

“Sure” he replied, adding more to my surprise. The closer he got to me; I could smell the dried blood, sweat and slowly fading after-shave exuding from him. His hair was a mess, his eyes were dark and puffy and he desperately needed to take a bath. I pretended not to notice.

We watched the rain fall, barely speaking to each other. There was sadness on his face that made him look so much older than he was. Even with my own sadness, our sorrow magnetized in the room, bringing the dark clouds inside and tears to my eyes which I wiped away before he could see them.

“You deserve to be happy. You don’t deserve this,” Kauffman suddenly said. I didn’t get a chance to respond because Victoria had come rushing in and interrupted us.

“What a day?!” she exclaimed.

“Oh, look at the time! It’s dinner time already!” she continued.

“I’m starving,” Kauffman said heading to the door.

“We’ll eat in here. I’ll bring you your dinner, Elizabeth” he continued as he left the room with Victoria. I smiled as I watched them leave; alone again in his session room.

I couldn’t help but wonder why he said what he said. Did he know something? I racked my brain trying to solve the puzzle. When they finally came back with dinner, I was sprawled on the floor staring at the ceiling. I had thought about many things while they were gone. Thoughts of Henry, my old life, my new life, Kauffman, and plans to put my life back together.

“I see you’re enjoying this view better” Kauffman laughed, while hovering over me. I chuckled at this.

“Are you hungry?” he asked.

“Of course, she’s hungry” Victoria chimed, placing the food trays on Kauffman’s eating table. She wore her curly black hair down with a purple flower pin tucked behind her right ear. She had buttoned her white nurse dress all the way to the top today, which I found odd. She loved to show off her bosom. Never took her for being conservative.

“Yes” I smiled at Kauffman, ignoring Victoria. They let me sit with them for dinner. We actually talked and laughed. Victoria wasn’t too happy about it but she put up appearances for Kauffman. For a moment, it felt like the rain had actually washed away the sorrow of our past and for a moment we were happy. Whatever happy was, that is. Even if it was all a lie.

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Grandiose 11

You dreamt about me?” Kauffman asks from across the table. We are having breakfast in the cafeteria. We both ordered scrambled eggs with toast and a cup of coffee.  As I grabbed for the hot sauce so did he and our fingers touched. I tried not to blush. He chuckled a bit.

He looked like his normal self again. His eyes glistening as the sun hit them. I was glad he was being nice to me again and when I had told him about my dream he didn’t laugh; he was surprised.

“I never had a patient dream about me before” He smiled.

“There’s always a first time for anything” I said, blushing. Was I flirting? I became upset because I was confused by my emotions.

“Don’t get upset. It’s okay” Kauffman told me as he cupped my hands between his. I looked him and he leaned forward and smiled. I smiled back.

“Now, I have a surprise for you. You’re going to love this” he said as he led me out the cafeteria. He had me by my right hand and we ran to the main hallway with the glass walls overlooking the garden.

“Isn’t it beautiful?” Kauffman asked, breathlessly.

“It certainly is” I responded. Then he dragged me out through the exit door into the garden.  It was a warm day and the snow had melted away a few weeks ago.  I raised my hands to the sky taking in the sun, twirling myself around with glee. I was outside for the first time in three years.  I let myself fall onto the wet grass smelling fresh honeydew as Kauffman lands right beside me. We stare up at the sky and watch the birds fly by.

Lying there, Kauffman opens up to me about how he had lost his parents when he was young and had to take care of his younger brothers. He had to grow up fast at thirteen years old. I slid my hand into his as to comfort him.  For a while, after he had confiding in me about his past, we just laid there in silence. I didn’t think about anything really; was too happy to be outside.

I wanted to milk this newfound freedom until I had exhausted the day for all its worth. Abruptly making my way up, I made my way around the garden in total awe of the new born flowers.  Kauffman followed and watched me from afar. While sliding my hands through a shrub, I pricked a finger on a sharp twig that had been poking out.

“Ouch!” I yelped. Kauffman rushed over to me, pulled a handkerchief from his jean pocket and wrapped it around my finger.

“I think it’s time to go back inside; you’re going to need a band-aid.” He told me looking at my bloody finger. I didn’t protest as he led me back inside. He had a nurse attend to my finger in the session room.  She was quick and a bit rude, but my mind was preoccupied with other pressing matters.

The whole day I had the feeling that I was being watched even though you were always being watched here.  In the garden I thought I saw a man watching us from the extended garden, but when I had looked back he had disappeared. I couldn’t shake the feeling.

A strong lavender aroma from Victoria’s newly washed hair blended with the freshly brewed Columbian coffee from the cafeteria that alarmed everyone that lunch was ready. She placed the red food tray on my desk and smiled.

“They made peach cobbler, your favorite” Victoria told me, pointing at the peach cobbler. I never told her I loved peach cobbler. Only Victoria knew this. I didn’t say anything back because I knew how the discussion would end. I ate my lunch in silence leaving Victoria and Kauffman to chat over their lunch.

Again, I had that uneasy feeling that someone was watching me. I turned my head to the door but no one was there. Kauffman and Victoria were immersed in discussion about the poor care of the third floor patients. Many of them weren’t being fed because the nurses were scared of them.

Some were even being mistreated by the orderlies who took pleasure in beating them.  Six third floor patients died last week of alleged unknown causes. Corruption roamed free here and those who talked were never seen again.

I had overheard Demetrius talking to another Russian orderly, named Marcus, who was known to have the tendency to act violently against patients brag about molesting a second floor patient. It was common for orderlies to molest or even rape female patients. I was one of the lucky few that had not been subjected to such indignities.

For the most part, I was grateful for Demetrius. He always kept a watchful eye on me and protected me but I always wondered why. Why is he so nice to me? He treats everyone else like sewage rats but I’m the exception. I’ve always been skeptical of him; you always have to trust your gut. Sometimes I feel like he is just fattening me up like a pig for slaughter; not to sound morbid or cynical, though.

Savoring every single bite of the peach cobbler as the sweet and pungent flavors electrified my taste buds; as I finished my lunch. I tried not to think about the harsh reality seemingly construed like a blockbuster horror story.

Then a shrilling scream rounded the lively souls silent and my heart pounded like a mad man playing the drums. It had come from the third floor and soon I heard the pounding footsteps of orderlies and nurses running towards the screams.

“Stay here!” Kauffman yelled at me as he rushed out with Victoria. I locked the door behind them, just to be safe.  The officials will not like this or perhaps they are not aware of the increasing deaths and disappearances. I make my way to a corner and hide away from view. I have to get out of here. I fear the worst and I will not stand around and wait to be caught by the killer.

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Grandiose 10

Kauffman’session room smells like somebody smoked a hundred cigarretes. It makes me cough. Victoria opens the windows behind Kauffman’s desk and in a few minutes the room smells fresh again. Kauffman is late; he is never late. I find myself feeling worried.

Victoria didn’t handcuff me to the chair today, which has lifted my mood a bit. I feel free. My mind is empty; I have no thoughts to ponder upon. I don’t even think about Henry. I sit up straight with mother’s voice in my head telling me how good posture is important. She always instilled that upon me while growing up in London. How I missed her as I sat there looking out the window.

It was a rather warm January morning. A mockingbird chirped a song on a high branch of an oak tree right outside Kauffman’s session room. A brown rabbit searching for his morning grub lurked around the tree. I wondered if he had a family and how they waited patiently for him to come back. I hummed as the mockingbird sang it’s song and when it was done it flew away into the ocean blue sky. If only I could go outside and feel the sun on my skin. I desperately yearned to have the wind blow through my long red hair and flush my cheeks.

I suddenly hear Kauffman’s footsteps rushing towards the room. I know this by the clanking noise they make similar to a women’s pumps. They are annoying to hear but he doesn’t care what people think.

“I’m terribly sorry. I overslept.”Kauffman said breathlessly as he headed towards his desk. He did look tired; his eyes were puffy and dark. His clothes were wrinkled. Nevertheless, he managed to maintain his perfectly groomed dark brown hair, parted to the left. He always kept his hair well-groomed.

Victoria went over to him and started massaging his shoulders after he had sat down.

“There-there relax”She said to him.

“That does feel nice”Kauffman smiled with eyes closed. This angered me for some reason. Was I jealous? I quickly adverted my gaze to the window again, while Kauffman and Victoria went over notes.

I didn’t notice I had fallen into a trance; staring out the window. I was far away in my mind when I heard distant voices screaming my name. Gradually the voices grew louder; realizing it was Kauffman and Victoria announcing the start of the session. I shook myself back to the present.

“Now that we’re all back, let’s continue where we had left off the last time”Kauffman said to me.

“You were at your Uncle’s apartment” he continued.

“Yes” I replied.

“Let’s begin” Kauffman responded opening up his journal to a blank page as I began telling my story.

The next morning, Uncle Leo, had made us a big breakfast as well. That man really loved to cook. He made us French Toast, scrambled eggs, waffles and pancakes, freshly squeezed orange juice, oatmeal raisin muffins, fruit bowl with yogurt, coffee, strawberry milkshakes, bacon, sausages and grilled cheese sandwiches.

I took a bit of everything. It was so good. My jaw dropped when I saw how Victoria had stuffed her plate so high with food.

“Aren you really going to eat all of that” I asked her in total disbelief.

“Yes”she mouthed back with a mouth full of scrambled eggs and bacon. She did in fact eat it all and had herself a second helping. Uncle Leo was actually flattered by this. He urged me to eat more but I gracefully declined.

It was about 11 a.m. by the time we had left Uncle Leo’s apartment, bloated from the delicious breakfast we had just eaten. Before leaving, he had handed me a stack full of cash. At first I didn’t want to take it but I needed the money since I hadn’t found a job yet.

Outside the temperature was of Spring not of Winter at all that November morning while Victoria and I waited for our taxi. There wasn’t much people outside either. We didn’t have to wait long for the taxi; it arrived 10 minutes after we had called for it. There wasn’t much traffic so the trip home was a breeze.

Entering into our building’s main floor, we met with one of Victoria’s friends, named Alexis. She had been waiting for the elevator when we had entered. She had long blonde hair that reached her waist, wore a plum colored wool coat, black stockings and chocolate brown boots.

When she saw Victoria she smiled, “Victoria, how are you?!” she exclaimed as she rushed to give Victoria a hug.

“I’m fine, thanks. And you?”Victoria said to her. They talked for a few minutes until Alexis asked Victoria who I was.

“Where are my manners, Alexis, this is Elizabeth, my new roommate. She just moved here from England.”

“How do you do”Alexis smiled at me as she stretched out her hand for me to shake. At that moment, we heard the elevator doors open and I turned to face Henry. We smiled at each other. His ocean blue eyes glistening as the sun hit his face. I tried very hard not to blush.

“Fancy seeing you again”he said to me.

“Had an all-nighter, I see” he told me, pointing at my clothes. I tugged at my black sweater, slightly embarrased.

“Kind-of, we stayed over at my Uncle Leo’s apartment” I replied.

“What are you doing now? Want to grab coffee?” he asked.

“We just had a big breakfast at my Uncle’s, I don’t think I could fit anything anymore. Can I take a raincheck?” I laughed.

“Definitely, maybe later we can go out?” He smiled at me.

“Yes, maybe later”I smiled back.

“Here’s looking at you kid” He said to me as he hugged me goodbye. I watched him walk out the building and take a left down the street.

“Are you two a thing now?” Victoria said walking up behind me into the elevator.

“No, I just met him” I responded.

“It looks like he likes you” Victoria snorted.

“I don’t know…maybe” I replied.

“I can’t focus on that now, I have too many things to do” I continued.

“So serious” Victoria laughed. I didn’t bother to respond. Arriving at our apartment, I quickly headed towards my room remaining in there while I finished unpacking the rest of my luggage. It was well past four when I had finished unpacking and organizing my things.

Victoria didn’t know how to cook and I was too tired to do so-so we ended up ordering a pizza. We ate it while watching a movie in the living room with a bottle of red wine. We didn’t really talk much during the movie and after it was done, Victoria went to her room and stayed there the rest of the evening. I cleaned up and watched TV until midnight then went to bed.

I had hoped Henry would have come over but felt silly thinking about him. I didn’t know much about him and already had taken a shine to him.

“Did you ever go on a date with him? Kauffman asked suddenly, breaking my train of thought.

“Yes, but that’s later in the story” I said not looking at him.

“Have you remembered anything about the murder?” he asked me. This took me off guard and caused me to midly hyperventalate.

“No!”I yelled, starting to cry.

“I see…”he said, then called for Victoria to bring me my lunch. I wasn’t too sure about telling him the two visions I had been having where in one I hold a bloody bat and in the other a bloody knife while an unidentified man lays on the floor, dead. I couldn’t be sure that those visions or dreams were actual flashbacks.

I eat my lunch slowly, not wanting to talk with Kauffman anymore. He has been hostile to me for a few weeks now and I don’t like it at all. Victoria seems to be enjoying his sudden change in attitude towards me. I recoil in dismay. To my surprise, kauffman decides to end the session early and am left in the community room with a few other patients. I don’t talk to them. I sit on a brown sofa near a large glass window facing the grounds.

I stare out the window, thinking about how tired looking Kauffman had been. I was worried about him. He wasn’t himself these days. Now I find myself watching the other patients go about the community room but lose interest quickly.

“Junior,” a fifth year patient, waves to me from a chess table across the room.We called him “Junior” because he is a second generation patient. His father had been emitted here many years ago. He plays by himself. I smile at him. He sports a shaved head, an over-sized black t-shirt and blue asylum issued pajama pants. He wore no shoes.

In my periphery, I see Molly walking towards me.

“You can go back to your room until we come get you for dinner” she says to me. I slowly make my way to my room. As I make a right turn towards the hallway that leads to my room, I see him. Henry. He is by the exit doors that lead down to the basement. He smiles at me then disappears through the exit doors. I run after him. I make my way down to the basement screaming for Henry. He is nowhere to be found in the dimly lit maze.

I soon realize that I am lost and start to cry. Then I feel strong warm hands grab at my shoulders and turn me around to face Kauffman. He holds me tight to his chest and I let myself be soothed by his embrace. He is kind and gentle as he leads me to his office for a cup of hot Chamomile tea.

I tell him what happened and he just nods. He walks over to his disc player and soon it starts to play an old American Swing song. He comes over to where I am sitting and pulls me up by my hands to dance. He twirls me around and I laugh like a school girl. Then he pulls me close and kisses me on my forehead. He traces his fingers on my lips and I pull away.

I open my eyes and find myself in my room on the floor, shivering. It was just a dream.

Grandiose 9

Kauffman came into my room briefly this morning with Demetrius and a new orderly.  They dragged me to the seclusion room on the third floor. I screamed all the way there. It was not a great place to be, well for me that is. I hated being in the dark. I dreaded going there again.

The third floor had dimmer lights than the rest of the building; that’s where they kept the psychopaths-the morbidly deranged. I heard them scream in madness all those dark souls and for a moment I thought I would join them. I refused to succumb to their madness. Image

            “Hey little girl, come back and play!” a convicted serial killer laughed. Demetrius and the new orderly forced me to walk faster. We reach the steel door that requires 6 gold plated bolts to keep it secure.  It was a small dark room with black walls and one light bulb that flickered all the time. The walls were covered with disturbing art from the other patients who had been exiled there. There were even stories of patients dying there and ghosts haunting the room.  I beg Kauffman to reconsider but he ignores me. I cry hysterically.

Demetrius and the new orderly try to pull me in but I hang on to the door like a 5 year old.

            “No!” I scream. They are pulling me from my legs now and I’m holding on to the side of the door for my dear life. Kauffman begins to pry my fingers off the door and I am pulled into the room, defeated. I curl into a fetal position at the back left corner of the room and shiver.

            “This is not a punishment. I am really trying to help you” I hear Kauffman say but am too busy crying to even acknowledge him. Kauffman leaves a few blank white pages and a box of crayons on an old wood student desk in the middle of the room. He tells me he wants me to draw something and heads out the room with Demetrius and the new orderly. The closing of the door as the bolts clank in place makes me even more delirious. The fact that he didn’t tell me how long I would be in there causes me to hyperventilate.

The only light bulb in the room starts to flicker, elevating my forthcoming panic attack. I remain in the corner not moving one bit. Somehow I fall asleep for a while; don’t know how long, though. There are no windows in this room or a clock, so I am oblivious to time here as well.

Before Kauffman had left, he had placed an old tape player on the student desk to play both Beethoven and Mozart. I suppose the music calmed me down. After waking up the first time, I began to cry again, realizing it was not a dream. I was actually in that room in the dark with just a glimmer of light from the incessantly flickering bulb in the middle of the room. I cried and cried for hours, begging for someone to let me out. No one came.  All that crying made me sleepy again. I went back to sleep for a second time. I don’t know for how long I slept that time either.

When I awoke, I begrudgingly crawled my way to the student desk and pulled myself onto the chair. It creaked and rocked from my weight. I considered my options. Perhaps Kauffman was watching me through a camera in the room and if I didn’t do what he said I would stay in here forever. I stared at the art on the wall in front of me created by past patients, most of which depicted suicide and other disturbing images. The ones who used a lot of the black and red crayons were the broken souls on this floor. There were a few rainbows and happy faces but only a few.

I think about what to draw, scratching my head with a blue crayon. I decide to look at the art on the wall instead as I slip out of the chair and make my way towards them. So much pain on these walls, I think to myself. Like I said beforehand, many of these cried out their suicidal tendencies. The more deranged ones drew dark images of a homicidal nature. Then there were the ones who just wanted to go home, like a patient named Emily, who drew a picture of her family.

It was the typical family picture a kindergartener would draw; a house with a white picket fence with the whole family lined up in front, smiling. There was also a dog there too. She even wrote the words, “I want to go home” in the green grass in black crayon. Emily had a personality disorder. She had murdered her whole family with a machete seven years ago on Christmas Eve. They never figured out why.

Tears streamed down my face as I slipped my hand through all the artwork, feeling all their pain. I went back to the chair and sat there, just staring at the blank pages on the table. I thought about Henry and what Demetrius had said. He had seen him too.

“That’s it!” I exclaimed.  I decided to draw a portrait of Henry so I could show it to Demetrius and confirm my story to Kauffman. Then he would see that I wasn’t crazy. A few minutes into the sketch, I hear the door unbolt and in comes a tall skinny blonde hair nurse with my lunch. It’s only lunch! I thought I had been in there for hours. The nurse smiles at me and places the tray of food to my right side. I smile at her for not covering my drawing with the tray. I guess some people still have manners.

I barely touch the food because all I want is to finish my perfect portrait of Henry. I make sure to accurately emphasize on his deep blue warm eyes, blonde hair, strong jaw and full lips. When I am done, I trace my fingers on his lips, pretending he is there with me. More hours pass by and I fall asleep once more. The door opens a few hours later, jolting me up from my sleep to see Kauffman walk in.

He doesn’t talk to me as he grabs for my sketch of Henry. He looks at it for a few seconds with a stern look upon his face, and then calls for Demetrius who is told to take me to the cafeteria for dinner. Kauffman was being cold to me and I didn’t know why. Then the strangest thing happened, Demetrius smiled at me. I was taken aback by this because he never smiled. I found this rather peculiar.

I didn’t feel much like eating. Knowing my chances were slim, I asked Demetrius if he could let me hang out in the community room instead. He of course, said no at first. It was forbidden to miss a meal because they gave us our medication with it. A few moments later, Demetrius, to my surprise, changed route whispering the following into my ear.

            “Only this time” he said as we made our way to the other side of the building back down stairs to the main floor. We walked through the long empty hallways in silence. I stared at the floor as I walked. I wasn’t particularly happy after spending most of the day locked up in a dark room.

About 20 minutes later, we reached the dark green doors of the community room. It was empty with the exception of the attending nurse who was enclosed in an office with glass walls. She looked at Demetrius who gave her a non-verbal sign which she acknowledged in agreement by nodding her head.

The community room was filled with vintage chairs, sofas and TV’s. The walls were covered in an out-dated floral wallpaper. It was like you were being transported back to the 70s. I made my way to a leprechaun green sofa that faced the largest of the four TV’s in the room. I didn’t bother to turn it on, I just stared at the dark screen. Demetrius went over to chat up the nurse, always having a watchful eye on me, though. I curled up on the sofa, my eyes growing heavy and falling asleep once again.

During my short nap, I had a nightmare or maybe it was a flashback. I couldn’t really be sure. I was holding a knife and was covered in blood. I heard water running and police sirens in the distant. There is a man dead on the floor but can’t make out his face. At that moment I lose the image as Demetrius furiously shakes me, waking me up. He is now dragging me back to my room. There has been a murder. One of the dangerous patients has stabbed a nurse and they are ordering a lockdown.

Hurrying back to my room, I can’t help but wonder if what I dreamt was a memory or just a nightmare. Nothing is clear. I have to figure things out soon because I don’t have much time. Kauffman is growing weary of me; I fear he will give up on me. I fear being exiled back onto the third floor. I’ll die there. Third floor residents don’t last long; they always die of mysterious causes or go missing after a few years. Nobody ever knows what happens to them. Two nurses rush past us, looking scared. I knew who they were afraid of. I knew who stabbed that poor nurse. And I also knew he would disappear sometime soon. 

Grandiose 8

It still falls, the snow that is. I’m walking down the main floor hallway, my head turned slightly to the right, watching the snow fall through the glass wall. Victoria walks ahead of me as she leads me to my morning session with Kauffman. Her hair is in a tight top bun today and she is wearing her signature lavender perfume. I called her Victoria, when she came in to get me and she went ballistic. Image

“My name is Marissa! Not Victoria!” She yelled at me.

“You look so much like her and you wear the same perfume” I tell her.

“You’re crazy, now get up and follow me to Mr. Kauffman. He is waiting for you.” She scolded, marching out of my room. I followed her out.

The session room is down the main floor hallway; the first room at the right. I am enchanted by the snow and make my way to the glass wall, pressing my whole body against it. I press my chapped lips to the cold glass and smile. The cold lets me know I’m alive. Victoria, however, is quick to pull me away, dragging me by my right arm.

“You’re such a child!” she yells at me. I don’t say anything back. I hang my head low and let her drag me to Kauffman. When we get there, she orders me to sit in the steel chair that stood in the middle of the room. She proceeds to handcuff my right wrist to the right handle of the chair.  Kauffman is sitting behind his desk, reading a thick red coverless book.  He barely notices us when we come in. I try to figure out what the book may be about but am left frustrated because I can’t see over it.

“No…No…No!” I yell. The handcuffs hurt me and I hate them. Why can’t I sit like a normal person? I’m tired of being restrained. I was glad when they decided not to use the white jacket on me anymore but insist on keeping me handcuffed at all times. I won’t hurt anybody. I promise. I tell them but they are not convinced. Kauffman hurries over to me and grabs my face, forcing me to look at him. I calm down at the touch of his warm hands.

“Its okay” he says to me as he looks into my eyes.

“Okay” I nod back, shyly. It was that easy. He knew how to stop the pain. Walking back over to his desk, he pulls out his chair and places it a few feet from me.

“Now let’s discuss last evening” he says to me as he sits down, crossing one leg over the other.

“You say, you saw Henry, tell me about it?” he continues to ask.

“No one believes me. I saw him. I heard him.” I tell him, tears streaming from my eyes now.

“He was there by the cafeteria exit, I saw him…I heard him call out my name” I said.

“Are you sure?” Kauffman asked.

“Yes” I responded, sniffling.

“Tell me anything else you can recall” Kauffman urged.

“I was ready to take my tray back when I heard him say my name. I looked around and I saw him by the far left cafeteria exit door. He waved at me. If only they had let me reach him…” I said, trying to stay calm.

“What happened to Henry? Why didn’t he come to your rescue?” Kauffman asked me. I had asked those questions to myself last night and couldn’t come up with any reasonable conclusion. Henry loved me. Didn’t he? Why didn’t he save me?

“I don’t know” I finally responded, shaking my head.

“If he loved you he would have saved you” Victoria said sarcastically.

“No need to banter her” Kauffman said to Victoria, coldly.

“I suppose we all have feelings, even deranged red-heads” Victoria sighed.

“Is that really necessary?!” Kauffman shrieked at Victoria.

“What?!”

“I didn’t say anything.” She smiled at him.

“Never mind you…” he told her with a wave of a hand, as to disregard her altogether. He put up with her over-bearing cynical nature because she was the best nurse assistant he ever had and also she was very intelligent. Perhaps she was too intelligent. Deep down he wished to have his way with her but fought the urges by focusing on me. I was his most important puzzle; he had to solve the mystery of my life that I have no memory of. I was grateful for him but Victoria was keen on destroying any chance of me ever recovering or escaping this nightmare.

Kauffman didn’t believe me, of course. He told me I was seeing things-that Henry was never there. I cried and screamed to him that I saw him. I was not crazy. I had another screaming spell and they had to call Demetrius to take me back to my room. I think I really did go bonkers for a split second when he uncuffed me from the chair; I swung my fist into his nose. He didn’t say anything; he just grabbed my arm and twisted it behind my back. I yelped in pain.   This quickly brought me back to my senses.

Even after punching him in the face, he remained unchanged. It was like nothing had happened. He walked me into my room, mildly edging me to back into the padded white wall. He stared into my eyes and I stared into his. I was ready for the beating to come. To my surprise, he didn’t beat me; he just stared at me for a while, and then headed back to the door. Leaving the door slightly ajar, he peered at me once more. I was getting tired of this game. What was he up to? Then he finally said something that made my heart leap up into my throat.

“There was a man…by the exit door in the cafeteria. I saw him.” He said to me in his strong Russian accent, closing the door quickly. I sunk to my knees, pulling at my hair.

“I’m not crazy” I murmured, excitedly.

Grandiose 7

I’m watching the snow fall. My face is pressed against the left glass wall of the main floor, overlooking the garden which is now completely covered in a beautiful white blanket of snow. Sometimes they let me walk around if I’ve been good but always under the watchful eye of Demetrius. Demetrius was a steroid pumping, six foot four orderly from Russia, covered in tattoos. He was known for abusing his authority and had a really bad temper. He loved to physically abuse patients if they didn’t adhere to his way of doing things. He never hurt me though, but I didn’t receive special treatment either. Through my periphery, I saw him take out a cigarette and light it. The hall was empty; everyone else was at lunch or in their rooms. I had eaten my lunch in my room and he had come to surprise me. He knew I liked looking outside. Image

I yearn to go out and feel the cold on my skin and throw myself onto the ground and make snow angels. They rarely let me go outside; not since the attempted suicide incident when I was first emitted. It was my first Spring here, and they had taken me out to the garden. While walking around, I noticed a sharp rock by an old oak tree and picked it up without anyone noticing. I attempted to cut my wrists but was stopped by two nurses. I was more deranged then.

After that they never let me out, even now I am restricted to these walls. It is maddening really to watch those who can go outside in the Spring and Summer. I envy them. I always plead with them to let me go out but it is futile. This of course drives me into screaming spells which results with me being drugged and locked up in my room.  I cringed at the thought of it.

“Time to go back Lizzie” Demetrius says to me in a strong Russian accent. I didn’t like people calling me Lizzie but I wasn’t going to tell him that. I didn’t want to see what happens when you talk back to him. I was very comfortable with our arrangement. He grabbed my right arm a bit too hard as he led me back to my room. When we got there, he shoved me in and slammed my door shut. I stayed in there until it was time for dinner. This time it was Janice who got me and took me to the cafeteria.

Janice was obnoxious and loud. I towered over her but she was a big woman with very strong arms.  It was around 6:30 p.m. when I got my last meal for the day. I decided to sit at the far right corner of the cafeteria. I was one of the few patients that actually got to eat outside of their rooms. Most patients were fed in their rooms; some were too dangerous to let out. When I was first emitted, I was one of those dangerous patients who reside on the third floor. My tray was slid through an opening in the door and sometimes the orderly would be cruel and shove it in. It would spill the contents on the floor and I would have to eat it.

Then one day, Molly, a shy, petite nurse, came into my room with my lunch. She wasn’t afraid of me. She was nice to me and sat with me as I ate. I took a liking to her right away. The Director was impressed at how Molly had tamed me, that I was given cafeteria privileges. Come my fourth evaluation by the former psychiatrist (which I don’t recall ever meeting) I was moved to the first floor.

Now I sit in the far right corner of the cafeteria, staring at my food tray. It consists of macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken breast, fruit bowl and a box of orange juice. I’m not hungry. I think about throwing it out but pick up the plastic white spoon instead and shove it into the mashed potatoes, putting a good heap of it into my mouth.

I eat everything in record speed even the juice is gulped down in less than a ten seconds. I sense someone watching me and turn my head slightly to the left to see Kauffman staring at me. When he sees me looking back, he smiles at me. I quickly turn my head back to look at my now empty food tray and blush a little, glad that my long red hair covers my face.

“Sweet Elizabeth” I hear a familiar distant voice say.

“Henry!” I yelp as I jolt myself off my seat and look around for him. Everyone turns to look at me. I see him across the room and rush to meet him but am stopped by three big orderlies. I fight them screaming for Henry but when I look back to where I had seen him, he was no longer there. He had slipped away once again. I see a nurse inject a needle into my right arm and soon I start to feel sleepy. I am carried off back to my room, locked in for the remainder of the day.

Kauffman comes into my room a few hours later, looking rather frazzled. He hadn’t been sleeping much with my sudden drawback and his ever growing patient list. Despite his lack of sleep and stress, he still managed to keep a smile on his face. Behind him was Victoria or as she called herself now, Marissa.

“How are you?” Kauffman said to me with a smile.

“What happened with you tonight?” He continued to ask.

“I swear he was there!” I exclaimed. I went on to tell him of how I heard Henry call out to me and how I had seen him across the cafeteria by the far left exit door.

“I see…” Kauffman said in a low voice.

“We’ll talk about this further tomorrow morning” he went on to tell me as he turned to exit my room.

“Who is this Henry she speaks of?” Victoria whispered to Kauffman when they were out of Elizabeth’s earshot.

“Henry Betzel, but the thing is there is no record of him. I’ve done my research on her story. He doesn’t exist” Kauffman said to her with a sigh.

“He doesn’t exist?” Victoria replied, chuckling a bit.

“No” Kauffman responded with a yawn. I sat in my room, knees tucked in, shivering. I saw Henry with my own eyes. I wasn’t crazy or maybe I was. If only they had let me reach him. I didn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t.